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June 22, 2004

A story! A story!

JMH sent a probably apocryphal bunch of snippets of commercial aviation-speak. It's been around before, but I'm sure some of you haven't seen it, and it's funny, even if you have. Of course, I especially like the "Yes, Twice in 1944, and I didn't land."

But number three always brings to mind a war story. Defined as starting with "This is no sh*t" and having no connection to a shooting war.

Young Second Lieutenant Donovan got off the airplane in Frankfurt, was picked up by 1LT Pete Hansen and whisked off to Monteith Barracks, near Nueremburg. Young Lt. Donovan was a tad surprised at this, being assigned to the 1st Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery of the 1st Armored Division, which he knew to be stationed at Pinder Barracks, Zirndorf. Having been born and half-raised in Germany, young Lt. Donovan knew that something was up - he could read the road signs.

Pete Hansen allowed as how the battalion was at Graf, and the battalion commander thought it would be a good idea for young Lt. Donovan to join the battalion in the field, first thing. All that settling in stuff could wait, so we were on our way to CIF (Central Issue Facility) where I could draw my TA-50 (field gear) and we could go to Pinder, drop my stuff in the HHB (Headquarters and Headquarters Battery) arms room, change into fatigues and catch a jeep to Graf. My wife? Well, she'd cope, Pete was sure.

So, off to Graf and the FST TOC (Fire Support Team Tactical Operations Center)at Bleidorn Tower (an OP- observation post - overlooking the impact area). Where the now slightly punchy, been-up-for-36-hours Lt. Donovan gets introduced to the junior members of the Mess. And gets informed he has radio watch in the TOC for the evening, welcome to Germany and the One-Two-Zoo, and we're going to bed, see ya in the morning.

Recognizing hazing for hazing, young Lt. Donovan busies himself meeting the Sergeants and other troops on duty in the TOC, getting oriented to what the battalion has going on tonight (lots of coordinated illum missions), finding out which teams were on which OPs, etc. Then, settling in at the field desk, crack open the range regs since I'm apparently supposed to get range safety certified by tomorrow night or my commission is forfeit or something.


But there's this asshole on the radio. Engaged in what is *still* one of my pet peeves. Blowing into the microphone before talking. It really really really is an annoying habit. Like the radio handset you used thirty seconds ago is likely to have failed, or will fail in the next thirty seconds.

Fine. I'm net control. That means it's my net. Let's have a little discipline on the net. And I'm tired. Pushin' 40 hours now. So I neglected to check something before I picked up the handset and said,

"Last calling station, last calling station, it is *not* necessary to inflate your radio prior to operation."

Silence in the TOC. Mixed stunned and amused faces in the suddenly very interested TOC crew. Especially since it wasn't my net. I told you I was tired.

The radio crackles to life.

"Last calling station, this is Lima-3-Charlie-45. Identify yourself!"

Hmmm. Probably ought to check who this guy is. The silence in the TOC, and on the net, are deafening. Lessee, callsign board, callsign board, where's the - oh! There it is, being pointed to by kindly SFC Carter. Better yet, he's pointing to the callsign!

Lima-3-Charlie= 1-22 FA
45= Bn Cdr.

Hmmm. Lt Donovan picked up the handset and replied:

"Charlie45, if you don't know, I think I'm not going to tell you. I may be coming in broken and stupid, but I'm not an idiot, out."

Much hilarity ensued in the TOC. I'm told much hilarity ensued in TOCs and BOCs (Battery Operations Center) all over Graf, since I had done it on the DIVARTY (DIVision ARTillerY) fires net.

Based on my first OER(officer efficiency report), no one ever told the battalion commander who the smartass was. Or he has a sense of humor.

Nah. No one told him.

The aviation stuff so kindly provided by the Canadian Tanker are in the extended post.

Here are some conversations that airline passengers normally will never hear. The following are accounts of actual exchanges between airline pilots and control towers around the world.

Tower: "Delta 351, you have traffic at 10 o'clock, 6 miles!"
Delta 351: "Give us another hint! We have digital watches!"

"TWA 2341, for noise abatement turn right 45 Degrees."
"Centre, we are at 35,000 feet. How much noise can we make up here?"
"Sir, have you ever heard the noise a 747 makes when it hits a 727?"

From an unknown aircraft waiting in a very long takeoff queue: "I'm f...! ing bored!"
Ground Traffic Control: "Last aircraft transmitting, identify yourself immediately!"
Unknown aircraft: "I said I was bored, not stupid!"

O'Hare Approach Control to a 747: "United 329 heavy, your traffic is a Fokker, one o'clock, three miles, Eastbound."
United 239: "Approach, I've always wanted to say this... I've got the little Fokker in sight."

A student became lost during a solo cross-country flight. While attempting to locate the aircraft on radar, ATC asked, "What was your last known position?"
Student: "When I was number one for takeoff."

A DC-10 had come in a little hot and thus had an exceedingly long roll out
after touching down.
San Jose Tower noted: "American 751, make a hard right turn at the end
of the runway, if you are able. If you are not able, take the Guadalupe
exit off Highway 101, make a right at the lights and return to the airport."

There's a story about the military pilot calling for a priority landing because his single-engine jet fighter was running "a bit peaked." Air Traffic Control told the fighter jock that he was number two, behind a B-52 that had one engine shut down."Ah," the fighter pilot remarked, "The dreaded seven-engine approach."

Taxiing down the tarmac, a DC-10 abruptly stopped, turned around and
returned to the gate. After an hour-long wait, it finally took off. A
concerned passenger asked the flight attendant, "What, exactly, was the
problem?" "The pilot was bothered by a noise he heard in the engine,"
explained the flight attendant. "It took us a while to find a new pilot."

A Pan Am 727 flight waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the following:
Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English."
Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent):
"Because you lost the bloody war."

Tower: "Eastern 702, cleared for takeoff, contact Departure on frequency
Eastern 702: "Tower, Eastern 702 switching to Departure. By the way, after
we lifted off we saw some kind of dead animal on the far end of the runway."
Tower: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff behind Eastern 702, contact
Departure on frequency 124.7. Did you copy that report from Eastern
Continental 635: "Continental 635, cleared for takeoff, roger; and yes, we
copied Eastern... we've already notified our caterers."

One day the pilot of a Cherokee 180 was told by the tower to hold short
of the active runway while a DC-8 landed. The DC-8 landed, rolled out,
turned around, and taxied back past the Cherokee. Some quick-witted comedian in the DC-8 crew got on the radio and said, "What a cute little plane. Did you make it all by yourself?"
The Cherokee pilot, not about to let the insult go by, came back with a real
zinger: "I made it out of DC-8 parts. Another landing like yours and I'll have enough parts for another one."

The German air controllers at Frankfurt Airport are renowned as a
short-tempered lot. They not only expect one to know one's gate parking
location, but how to get there without any assistance from them. So it
was with some amusement that we (a Pan Am 747) listen! ed to the following
exchange between Frankfurt ground control and a British Airways 747,
call sign Speedbird 206.
Speedbird 206: "Frankfurt, Speedbird 206 clear of active runway."
Ground: "Speedbird 206. Taxi to gate Alpha One-Seven." The BA 747 pulled
onto the main taxiway and slowed to a stop.
Ground: "Speedbird, do you not know where you are going?"
Speedbird 206: "Stand by, Ground, I'm looking up our gate location
Ground (with quite arrogant impatience): "Speedbird 206, have you not been
to Frankfurt before?"
Speedbird 206 (coolly): "Yes, twice in 1944, but it was dark, -- and I didn't land."

While taxiing at London's Gatwick Airport, the crew of a US Air flight departing for Ft. Lauderdale made a wrong turn and came nose to nose with a United 727. An irate female ground controller lashed out at the US Air crew, screaming: "US Air 2771, where the hell are you going?! I told you to turn right onto Charlie taxiway! You turned right on Delta! Stop right there. I know it's difficult for you to tell the difference between C and D, but get it right!"

Continuing her rage to the embarrassed crew, she was now shouting hysterically: "God! Now you've screwed everything up! It'll take forever to
sort this out! You stay right there and don't move till I tell you to! You can expect progressive taxi instructions in about half an hour and I want you to go exactly where I tell you, when I tell you, and how I tell you! You got that, US Air 2771?"

"Yes, ma'am," the humbled crew responded. Naturally, the ground control
communications frequency fell terribly silent after the verbal bashing
of US Air 2771. Nobody wanted to chance engaging the irate ground controller
in her current state of mind. Tension in every cockpit out around Gatwick
was definitely running high.

Just then an unknown pilot broke the silence and keyed his microphone,
asking: "Wasn't! I married to you once?"